What Sports PR Reveals About Social Media Marketing - SHIFT Communications: A Performance Communications Agency + PR Firm in Boston | New York | San Francisco (2022)

“Set. Blue 42. Green 14. Hut, hut. HIKE!”

Like a quarterback, every marketer should be prepared and thrilled for the next opportunity to throw a winning play (or marketing campaign). You call out the plan to your team, you analyze the field, and you call the shots before launching into your next big run for the goal.

When it comes to social media marketing, there are plenty of comparisons you can make between sports and marketing or public relations. Additionally, there are plenty of lessons you can learn at the hands of sport PR mistakes or successes.

Whether you’re in communications or marketing, there are some shining examples we can learn from the strategies utilized by sports teams, coaches, and athletes — as well as their PR managers. Let’s dive into the savvy behind sports marketing and see what lessons we can learn from some of our favorite athletes and teams.

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Being social media savvy

Navigating the online social world can be tricky if you’re representing more than yourself. Take student athletes, for example. They have to not only represent themselves, but their school, their team, and their teammates. Everything they do online can be monitored and used against them — some have even lost scholarships, been expelled, or have had to go on disciplinary leave due to poor choices and bad social media posts.

However, they can also use social media to their advantage by promoting their team values, highlighting their fellow players, or creating a positive image for their followers. Everything they post online is permanent, and they have to learn at a formative age how to become social media savvy.

The same goes for your social media venture as a marketer for your company. You have to be aware of how your messages can impact others and vigilant in recognizing any potential backfire your company or brand might receive. Remember that inappropriate posts, insensitive responses, and even the actions of those inside the company can have a lasting stain on your brand.

However, being social media savvy doesn’t just mean being conscious of the positive and negative ways of using social media; it is also about how to successfully garner an audience reaction. There are millions of people using social media everyday, and it’s tricky to gain the attention of your intended audience when everyone’s saturated with social media exposure. So what can you do to get shares, likes, or future customers? The best solution is to keep them actively engaged with unique, catchy, and simple content.

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Take for example the ever popular Nike slogan: “Just Do It.” The simple slogan, created over 25 years ago, is still considered one of the most popular marketing campaigns of all time. However, it is also simple, true to the message of the company, and unique. Plus, it has translated well over the past few decades, even becoming a short enough phrase to turn into a hashtag. It’s an evergreen marketing campaign that Nike still uses to this day, and your company should find their own slogan that can withstand the test of time.

Just like young athletes, you will need to be conscious of your impact on social media. Be sure to build a campaign that lasts, and be an active user of social media to garner the audience you want. Additionally, you will need to find unique and catchy evergreen content. Remember this saying from Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”

WWE lessons and gauging your audience

Now, hold up: is World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) a legitimate sport? Many might argue that it’s not, but even the WWE company agrees that it is “sports entertainment.” Regardless, WWE is a massive source of inspiration for marketers and PR leaders. Why, you might ask? Let’s dive into the specifics.

WWE relies on creative storylines based on “villains/heels” and “heroes/faces.” Rivalries, partnerships, “heel turns,” who wins, and who loses are all determined prior to the matches, but are all based on one thing: how the audience will react. WWE thrives based on their audience. Superstars like The Rock, John Cena, and Stone Cold Steve Austin weren’t constructed in a day. It was the audience that helped drive them to fame. This dedication to the passion of their audience has made WWE the success that it is.

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The same goes for your business: recognize that everything relies on how your audience will react. Engage them, get them riled up, and have them cheering on every step you take. If something isn’t working in your marketing strategy, don’t be afraid to drop it. Use your failures or criticisms to evolve your business and change up your strategy. You’d be surprised at how loyal your fans will become if you listen to them and take their concerns into account.

One of the biggest examples within the WWE is how the Diva (now Women’s) division has changed over the years. In the early years, women were used as props or sex appeal for the show. However, through marketing research, writers started to pick up that the Divas needed a change, since many of the members of their audience were women. They slowly transitioned their Women’s roster, creating more matches and airtime for the athletes. Now the Women of WWE are taken more seriously and embraced wholeheartedly by their fans. Although the change was slow, it still happened, and the WWE is all the better for it.

Although progress is still needed to even the playing field, the WWE has progressed significantly because they listened to their audience, considered the criticism, and made changes. For your business and marketing strategy, you could do the same. Rely on your audience for inspiration, and they won’t let you down.

Losers and winners — becoming a fair sport

Another important lesson that PR professionals and marketers can learn from sports is that not all publicity is good publicity. Additionally, sometimes the hardest lessons provide you with the biggest opportunity for success.

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This can be seen with many football teams that have made it to the Super Bowl but ultimately lost. The Panthers lost Super Bowl 50 in 2016, but the reaction from the team led to some negative publicity. Instead of accepting defeat, they ignored the loss, refused to congratulate the winning team, and ultimately missed out on identifying opportunities for growth. Nobody likes a sore loser, and negative feedback from NFL fans quickly followed that loss.

The biggest loss, however, was their inability to grow from the opportunity. This translates well into how businesses should approach, analyze, and grow from their own losses — whether that’s with the loss of a client, loss of money, or ignoring an apparent risk to your business until it was too late. Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away, and it prevents your business from becoming better. Awareness of mistakes is the first step to improving your business.

Additionally, criticism or any opportunity to change paths should be embraced with open arms. Instead of ignoring the losses or avoiding reality, turn to face it. Be open about changes you want to make in the future, both with your staff and with your customers. Your audience will appreciate your transparency and will be able to guide you down the road you need to take.

Bases loaded, ready for a home run

When it comes to marketing, there are many lessons you can learn from every sport out there. However, some of the most important lessons are these: learn your craft, be savvy and strategic about what you post, let your audience guide your actions, and embrace challenges or losses with open arms.

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When it comes to building a winning marketing or PR strategy, don’t expect it to be easy. However, you can approach the challenge with the same tenacity and character as many sports stars of the modern era. You might even become the next superstar of the PR world.


What is PR in social media marketing? ›

PR is sending a message without seeming to influence sales; so the tone and approach are different. The PR audience interacts with the content differently and usually in a passive way, whereas the social media audience is more engaging and interactive.

What is public relations in sports marketing? ›

What is Sports PR? Sports public relations is promoting teams, individual players and sports organizations through earned media channels—including broadcast, print, radio, and online media outlets.

Which PR strategy works with social media? ›

Use social sharing in press releases

One of the easiest ways to incorporate social media into your PR strategy is by adding social sharing buttons to your press releases. This lets your customers and media outlets share your press releases easily.

How is public relations used in sports? ›

Sports public relations jobs deal with social, print, and digital media. What's more, the field of sports management public relations is all about allowing the athlete to focus on their game while the PR team handles the player's image. They work on enhancing the potential of the player when it comes to public image.

What are the different types of PR? ›

There are 7 different types of PR:
  • Strategic communications.
  • Media relations.
  • Community relations.
  • Internal communications.
  • Crisis communications.
  • Public Affairs.
  • Online and social media communications.
Oct 31, 2019

Is social media a PR or advertising? ›

But whether you think of social media as PR or marketing matters: It changes the tenor and the implications of your interactions, not to mention what you get out of them. Most companies view their social efforts as a form of PR, thanks to the dynamic nature of the interaction between their brand and consumers.

What are the PR jobs in sports? ›

Jobs in sports public relations include being an athlete rep or agent, part of a marketing or advertising team at a PR firm that specializes in athletics, or someone who works for specific sports teams and does promotional work. Although duties may differ by position, responsibilities often overlap.

What is the most frequently used type of public relations model in sport? ›

In fact, these are the two most common models used in sport public relations: press agentry/publicity and public information.

What are some job responsibilities of a sport marketer working in social media? ›

Coordinating ad copy and media buying, media creation, meeting with merchandising teams, developing budgets, drawing up a social media calendar, planning events and initiatives, and offering creative assistance in writing a press release might be just some of the tasks on a sports marketer's plate at any given moment.

What is a PR for a football team? ›

The job of sports public relations is to help foster and maintain those ties which take time, patience, Level 1 listening skills, and respecting the roles of everyone involved. That's why sports PR professionals must be able to skillfully multitask.

How are public relations and marketing related? ›

Marketing promotes the transfer of goods and services from the producer and provider to the consumer. Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other. Marketing's immediate goal is sales.

In what ways can public relations provide value to the sport organization by generating revenue? ›

In what ways can public relations provide value to the sport organization by saving money? Media wants to cultivate publicly, manage statistical services, manage the media at the games, create publications and have online content.

How has PR changed with social media? ›

By Matter. Social media has had a profound effect on public relations, creating new opportunities and challenges for brands. It allows brands and consumers to engage across a variety of channels in real-time, which has led to an increased demand for brands to address consumer inquiries quickly and effectively.

How do public relations professionals use social media? ›

Social media gives public relations professionals immediate access to a large, attentive audience. To make announcements - Word travels fast on Twitter, so public relations professionals often use the platform to announce awards, product launches, and company updates.

What are the four PR models? ›

Grunig and Hunt identified four models of public relations that progress from an elementary method of public relations to a more sophisticated practice. The models from basic to sophisticated include press agentry/publicity, public information, two-way asymmetrical communication, and two-way symmetrical communication.

How many PR are there? ›

In 2019, there were 274,600 PR specialists in the US alone. In 2019, the public relations industry generated $14.07 billion in the US. In 2020, the global PR market size was worth around $50.1 billion.

What is the purpose of social media as a PR tool quizlet? ›

(1) gaining consumer insights, (2) building brand awareness, and (3) creating customer loyalty.

Is social media a marketing or advertising? ›

Social media advertising is a type of digital marketing that utilizes social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to deliver paid ads to your target audience. Social media ads are a quick and effective way to connect with your consumers and boost your marketing campaigns.

How is PR different from social media marketing? ›

The Differences Between Social Media Marketing and Public Relations. The primary difference between social media marketing and PR marketing is that one is about maintaining a reliable voice, while the other is about working an angle.

What is a publicity officer in sport? ›

The roles and responsibilities of a publicity officer mainly are to insure that the event gets enough publicity for it to be a success. It is also important that the publicity officer raises the profile of the event. This means that they have to take control of all the advertising to do with the event.

What means PR? ›

Public relations (PR) refers to managing how others see and feel about a person, brand, or company. PR for corporations, notably publicly traded companies, focuses on maintaining a positive corporate image while handling media requests and shareholder inquiries.

Why is financial management important in the sport industry? ›

Good financial management is key to any successful sports program. The way funds are managed, solutions to budget problems are issued, and understanding the most significant area within your specific program are the most important parts of financial administration.

How do sports organizations use social media to build relationships? ›

The results demonstrated that sports organizations tended to use social media to develop professional relationships with fans via sharing information and promoting products. There were significant relationships between relationship dimensions and the number of retweets and favorites.

Why is it critical for sport organizations to have a good working relationship with the media? ›

Fosters Relationships

Strong media connections matter the sports and entertainment industry because it helps convey understanding, acceptance and communication between the public and the sports organizations.

What makes sports products unique and challenging to market? ›

Since sports are produced and consumed at the same time, the sport product is inconsistent and unpredictable. Several factors can change the sport product such as weather, facility offerings and team performance. As the product changes so does the consumer's perception.

What is the role of marketing in sports? ›

Sports marketing managers develop marketing campaigns to engage fans and attract business sponsors. They support the revenue goals of sporting arenas, university sports teams, professional sports franchises, leagues, and other sports-related organizations.

What do sports marketing agencies do? ›

A sports marketing agency manages the presence of its athletes. Their public appearances as well as their online presence. A big part of that is social media. Sports fans fall in love with their favorite athletes.

What are examples of sports marketing? ›

While super bowl ads and athlete endorsements are well-known examples of sports marketing in action, sports marketing also includes marketing that builds a brand around healthy or aspirationally athletic lifestyles. Using sports marketing strategies can add serious appeal for many consumers.

What is PR in simple words? ›

Public relations (PR) is the set of techniques and strategies related to managing how information about an individual or company is disseminated to the public, and especially the media.

How is PR different from social media marketing? ›

The Differences Between Social Media Marketing and Public Relations. The primary difference between social media marketing and PR marketing is that one is about maintaining a reliable voice, while the other is about working an angle.

What is PR and why is it important? ›

Public relations is about sending the right messages to the right place and the right people, creating a stronger brand reputation. PR agencies work alongside their clients to help them achieve this and promote them within their clients industries.

What means PR? ›

abbreviation for public relations: the activity of providing the public with information about your organization so that people have a positive idea of the organization's work: good/bad PR They have very good PR.

What are public relations activities? ›

Four basic categories of public relations research activities are most common: media monitoring, public relations audits, communication audits and social audits. Public relations research can be formal or informal, primary or secondary, qualitative or quantitative, etc.

What are the four roles of public relations? ›

What Are the Main Functions of a Public Relations Firm?
  • Media Representation. Media coverage is just one aspect of the functions of public relations. ...
  • Crisis Communication. ...
  • Content Development & Management. ...
  • Social Media Management.

How has PR changed with social media? ›

By Matter. Social media has had a profound effect on public relations, creating new opportunities and challenges for brands. It allows brands and consumers to engage across a variety of channels in real-time, which has led to an increased demand for brands to address consumer inquiries quickly and effectively.

Is PR a function of marketing or is marketing a function of PR? ›

PR is a complement to marketing, providing an added dimension to the brand and working with marketing to get the message across. Where PR shines is in its ability to provide a brand credibility by putting a “face” to a name. Think of it as a second dimension to the branding process.

Is PR marketing or communications? ›

However, while marketing is defined as the promotion of a company's products or services to current and potential consumers, public relations (as the term implies) is defined as the communications that shape the relationship between an organization and the larger public.

How important media relations is in PR? ›

Media relations can be a strong factor in building brand awareness, increasing credibility and authenticity, establishing relationships with the media, and crisis control. If you are looking to elevate your brand with media relations and are interested in how the professionals at 3E PR can help, contact us.

What does PR stand for in football? ›

Football Glossary
Position Abbreviations
PRPunt Returner
27 more rows

What does PR stand for in fitness? ›

What is the acronym PR mean in CrossFit terminology? To CrossFitters, it is an acronym that is something worth celebrating because it means they have achieved their personal record in a workout or a lift.

Which type of communication is called as public relations? ›

public relations, byname PR, aspect of communications involving the relations between an entity subject to or seeking public attention and the various publics that are or may be interested in it.


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